Freedom In The Post-Modern Age

‘The nature of post-modern freedom, although equally applicable to all, does not necessarily mean that it is immediately perceivable to all those who exist within its condition. Its condition is the product, generally speaking, of advanced economic development, although on occasion such philosophies as Buddhism have been interpreted as being of a ‘post-modern’ nature. Obviously ancient India was not in the advanced economic state that western Europe is in today, but the Buddha’s philosophy marks a stark break with the traditions of his time, and represents a clear manifestation of one particular aspect of the post-modern condition, namely that of dismissing the long narratives of history that had previously dominated Indian philosophical and spiritual thought. West Europe, the United States of America and to a lesser extent the emerging central and eastern European states, are the product of hundred of years of economic development that has created nothing less than a revolution in the material structure of outward society that has seen the remarkable establishment of science and medicine over that of the theology of monotheistic religion. This state of industrialisation and technological development, regardless of its inherent inequalities has nevertheless created an extensive collective wealth that has raised the level of physical and psychological existence.’

Xu Yun’s Letter to Chiang Kai-shek

‘In the early months of 1943 (when Xu Yun was in his 104th year), he had a conversation with the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) regarding the Buddhist teachings (Dharma), the philosophical principles of materialism and idealism, and the theology of Christianity. Thirteen years earlier, Chiang Kai-shek had converted to (Methodist) Christianity in 1929, and since that time had believed that China’s future could be moulded and directed from principles contained within the Bible itself, and this belief influenced policies such as the ‘Three Principles of the People’ and the ‘New Life Movement.’ ‘

Richard Hunn (1949-2006) – British Sinologist.

‘In the meantime Richard was pursuing an academic career in Chinese Buddhist studies, and for a time ran the Chinese Buddhist Association at Essex University. This part of his life is rather diverse, involving an Oxford University sponsored research programme about the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, which involved a trip to Zurich and a meeting with Jung’s grand daughter. At this time Richard was shown a document written in Jung’s handwriting apparently expressing his belief that reincarnation might well be a real phenomena. This, and similar work was kept from the public by the Jung family because they thought that its content might diminish Jung’s academic standing. Richard’s interest with Jung arose because of Jung’s contact with Charles Luk. In 1961, when Jung was on his death bed, he was reading Luk’s first volume of Ch’an and Zen Teachings. Jung had his secretary write to Luk and explain that when Jung read what master Xu Yun taught, and when Xu Yun explained the realisation of the mind – Jung felt that he himself could have said just that! Much later, whilst living in Japan, Richard stumbled upon Jung’s entire published works in English in a small bookshop for a very small price. Before this, however, Richard had settled in Norfolk founding the Norwich Ch’an Association. Many people would visit Richard’s home and seek Ch’an instruction, and on occasion Charles Luk would even send one or two people, notably Chinese students from Malaysia.’

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